|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
4:9-12 We should notice in others what is good, to their praise, that we may engage them to abound therein more and more. All who are savingly taught of God, are taught to love one another. The teaching of the Spirit exceeds the teachings of men; and men's teaching is vain and useless, unless God teach. Those remarkable for this or any other grace, need to increase therein, as well as to persevere to the end. It is very desirable to have a calm and quiet temper, and to be of a peaceable and quiet behaviour. Satan is busy to trouble us; and we have in our hearts what disposes us to be unquiet; therefore let us study to be quiet. Those who are busy-bodies, meddling in other men's matters, have little quiet in their own minds, and cause great disturbances among their neighbours. They seldom mind the other exhortation, to be diligent in their own calling, to work with their own hands. Christianity does not take us from the work and duty of our particular callings, but teaches us to be diligent therein. People often by slothfulness reduce themselves to great straits, and are liable to many wants; while such as are diligent in their own business, earn their own bread, and have great pleasure in so doing.
Verse 12. - That ye walk honestly; that is, honorably; seemly. Toward them that are without; without the pale of the Christian Church, toward those who are not Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles, the unbelieving world. So also, in another Epistle, the apostle says, "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without" (Colossians 4:5). That ye may have lack of nothing; either neuter, of no thing; or perhaps rather masculine, of no man; that ye be under no necessity of asking assistance either from heathens or from fellow-Christians; inasmuch as working with your hands will put you in possession of what is necessary for life; whereas idleness necessarily involves poverty and dependence on others.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
That ye may walk honestly,.... Decently, in good credit and reputation, providing things honest in the sight of all men, for themselves and families, and honestly paying every man his own; on which account it became them to mind their own business, and work at their trades; otherwise their walk and conversation would be scandalous, and not honest and honourable:
toward them that are without: the men of the world, who were without the church; see 1 Corinthians 5:12 profane sinners, unconverted Gentiles, that were without Christ and hope, and God in the world, and were aliens and strangers; and yet care should be taken that no occasion be given to such to reproach the name of God, the ways of Christ, and the doctrines of the Gospel:
and that ye may have lack of nothing; but have wherewith to supply the necessaries of life, and give to them also that stand in need, which is more blessed and honourable than to receive; or might not need any such instruction and exhortation, or any reproof for sloth and idleness; or not stand in need of "any man", as the Syriac version renders it; of the help and assistance of any, of any of those that are without, which would be dishonourable; or of them that are within, of the church, which might be burdensome. The Vulgate Latin version renders it, "that ye may not desire anything of anyone"; as the slothful man covets greedily all the day long what is another's, and this desire kills him, Proverbs 21:25 he covets an evil covetousness, and craves in a scandalous way the bread of others; when it would be more honourable for him to work with quietness, and eat his own bread got by honest labour, and not be beholden to another.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
12. honestly—in the Old English sense, "becomingly," as becomes your Christian profession; not bringing discredit on it in the eyes of the outer world, as if Christianity led to sloth and poverty (Ro 13:13; 1Pe 2:12).
them … without—outside the Christian Church (Mr 4:11).
have lack of nothing—not have to beg from others for the supply of your wants (compare Eph 4:28). So far from needing to beg from others, we ought to work and get the means of supplying the need of others. Freedom from pecuniary embarrassment is to be desired by the Christian on account of the liberty which it bestows.
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